Electoral Symposium 2014
Code of Conduct
Code of Conduct for Political Parties: A Tool for ensuring Free, Fair and Credible 2014 Elections
- The role of political parties in representative democracy
- The obligation to respect
- Why a Code of Conduct for Political Parties
- Some reflections on the Namibian Code for political parties
1.The role of political parties in representative democracy
- Democracy one of the foundational values of the Namibia State
- Affirmed by several constitutional provisions, namely
- Amongst others: Preamble, Articles 1(1), 17 (Political Activity), 21 (Fundamental Freedoms)
- Political parties are an essential component of democracy.
“By competing in elections and mobilizing citizens behind particular visions of society as well as through their performance in the legislature, parties offer citizens meaningful choices in governance, avenues for political participation, and opportunities to shape their country’s future” – National Democratic Institute2. The obligation to respect
- A discussion about a code for conduct for political parties incomplete without reference to human rights
- Human rights = Namibian Constitution provided legal guarantees, i.e. right to freedom of choice, and impose obligations, right to remedy if aggrieved
- Obligations are on both State and non-state actors
- Political parties are non-state actors
- Protection of Fundamental rights and Freedoms (Article 5)
- Respect for the constitutional and legal rights of citizens
- A Code of Conduct forms the basis for free, fair and favorable participation in electoral processes
- It affirms human rights i.e. freedom of affiliation/association, movement, speech, et cetera.
- It is essential that political parties monitor the electoral process, safeguarding against infringements of the law, However, not only by electoral administrators, but also against one another
- Codes serves as an important integrity safeguard.
- Part of check and balance mechanisms, respect for Rule of Law
- Meant to protect the viability and honesty of election administration and the participation by political parties and other interest groups
- Governs the political activity of parties and candidates
- Prohibits any form of intimidation.
- Outlaws hate speech, derogatory/inflammatory allegations
- Prohibits the disfigurement and destroying of political campaign material of other political parties
- Unlawful conduct during election campaign will be brought to the attention of the Namibian Police
- Parties commit to educate the members and supporters of the Code and ensure compliance What happens with non-compliance, Sect, 162 Electoral Tribunal/Electoral Courts to deal with (non) Compliance
- An all-embracing/catch-all Code on Electoral Conduct
- One regulating the conduct of all i.e. public institutions, media, etc.
5. Best Practices
- Electoral Code of Conduct forms part of the their Electoral Act (Schedule 2; "Code 1998“)
- Party candidate lists submitted must be accompanied by undertaking binding the party, its agents and its candidates to adhere to the provisions of the Code and failure to do so creates the risk of candidates being disqualified (Electoral Act 1998, 27(2)(a), 30).
- Electoral staff members are required to sign a code of conduct at a public function, thus committing themselves to the pursuit of credible elections.
- Infringements punished by a formal warning, fine, suspension of media access or restrictions on campaign activities.
- An Electoral Code of Conduct (2005) has been established by law governing the behaviour of participants in electoral processes (Article 1). The Code has the force of law and those who violate its provisions may be prosecuted or face legal suites (Article 31, 2.)
- Code of conduct, which is enabled by the Electoral Act (2006, 109), the Electoral (Code of Conduct) Regulations 2006 ("the Code"). These regulations govern not only the behaviour of political parties, their agents and supporters during electoral campaigns, but also that of the various mass media and election observers and monitors
- The CNE is tasked by electoral law with approving a Code of Conduct governing candidates, political parties, party coalitions and citizen groups taking part in an election (Law 8/2007, 7.1.l)
- The 2004 Code contain 19 articles which commits parties to "tolerance and democratic coexistence" and to compliance with electoral law (Nuvunga 2005, 69).
- Very, interestingly, in Mozambique “Political parties registered for an election by the CNE are invited to a workshop by the CNE, before an election, at which they are required to sign an electoral code of conduct
- The Electoral Commission of Namibia, commits to deliver, a free, fair and credible Election on November 2014,
WHO BENEFITS? ALL STAKEHOLDERS, and Namibia at large
IT IS OUR SUBMISSION THAT STAKEHOLDERS ACCEND TO AND ADHERE TO THE CONDUCT WITH BENEFIT OF US ALL…..!